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How do I begin to teach my child to read?

Children love to be engaged in positive learning activities. They don’t need toys or to be constantly entertained; they are naturally creative. Look around your environment and every time you see a word see that as an opportunity to teach your child. Try making up games on the spot. As you drive down the road, encourage your child to read “S-T-O-P” on a sign and explain what that means. When you go to a restaurant tell your children they will get a prize if they find a certain word on the menu. The prize can be anything from a “great job” to a big hug. The goal is to show your children how much fun it is to read and to celebrate when they recognize a letter, number or a word. It doesn’t matter if this happens at age two or six. Make each step in the process a celebration and your child will learn to love reading.

Why are your lessons so simple?

It is important for children to see the material that you want them to learn. If you look at a book or an educational game and you can’t figure out what your child is supposed to learn, then the chances are your child won't be able to see it either. When we design for small children, we try to make the letter, number, or word the focal point on the page. This allows your child to concentrate and eventually learn to recognize or build a mental model of each of the building blocks of written language.

Do you use phonics?

Our focus is on teaching first language skills to small children, first, and, then, systematically introducing second or other language skills. Because there is not enough research on the use of phonics in teaching children for whom English is a Second Language (ESL), we have established a pre and early reading system that allows children to build upon visual clues and contextual experiences.  For example, we show a number one, one object, and then the word one.  In this way, the child is able to visualize the relationship between numbers and number words.

Canadian Professor Frank Smith, PhD., has written many wonderful books that demystify the process of learning to read and we recommend them to all parents and teachers. In his book Reading FAQ, we believe he captures the dilemma of using phonics with small children. He writes:

"Phonics is illogical as a method of teaching reading. Even though computers can’t convert print to sound letter by letter comprehensibly, many teachers are required to teach reading using only letters and sounds. Words in context would do the job faster and cause less strain for teachers and students."

Why do you think that it is important to learn the letter names?

Singing and reciting letters are actually fun games for children. When combined with print-outs, like the ones on this website, this can lead to letter and number recognition even in very young children.  Beyond that, learning letter names can be an excellent way to encourage children to begin to write.  Our lessons encourage children to concentrate. If your child spends a day with the letter "A" then that is a day well spent. If English is a second language for your child, alphabets also provide an excellent way to illustrate the difference between the first and second languages. The child who recognizes and can recite and write the letters "r" &  "e" & "d" will also be delighted to discover that these letters spell the word "red". The same young child can quickly learn that “r” & “o” & “j” & “o” spell “rojo” in Spanish.

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